tv [untitled] CSPAN July 1, 2009 8:30am-9:00am EDT
it is 10:00 eastern. live on c-span 2. peter brown assistant director of the polling institute at quinnipiac university. we will continue to talk healthcare after a short break. randy johnson of the u.s. chamber of commerce will be along, plus more of your calls. >> during his travels next week president obama is scheduled to meet with russian president medvedev. a preview this morning from the heritage foundation two panels look at issues between the two countries including arms control. live coverage at 10:00 a.m.
eastern. also at 10:00 on c-span 2 quinnipiac university has the results of a new poll on americans' attitudes toward healthcare. that is the topic of a town hall meeting it afternoon at northern virginia community college. president obama travels to annandale, virginia, to take questions from an audience and from online sources including youtube, facebook and twitter. virginia governor tim kaine will be there. that 1:15 eastern on c-span. this holiday weekend on book tv discover an unfamiliar side of our nation's first president as we are live from george washington's mount vernon estate with historian and author john ferling on the ascent of george washington. join our three-hour conversation sunday on "in depth" part of our three-day holiday weekend starting friday morning on c-span 2's book tv.
>> publicly. >> donations maybe? i have no idea. >> government? >> c-span gets its funding through the taxes. >> federal funding? >> federal funding. >> 30 years ago america's cable companies created c-span as a public service. a private business initiative, no government mandate, no government money. >> "washington journal" continues. host: randy johnson is here now senior vice president of the u.s. chamber of commerce. more in healthcare. we woke up to it headline in the "wall street journal." in a major break with most other large companies wal-mart told the white house toss it supports requiring employers to provide health insurance to workers this is a centerpiece of the president's effort to provide near universal coverage to americans. what is the chamber's reaction? guest: wal-mart is a member of
the chamber but there are seven million employers and a lot of them belong to the chamber and we have a big tent and when you talk about a piece of legislation that runs 800 to 1,000 pages there is room for legitimate disagreement. we will look at wal-mart's proposal and run it through our policy committee and consider it. right now our position is based on a lot of discussions with members and we do oppose a new employer mandate. host: they say it lobbyist for large corporations have opposed it. the chamber of commerce has fought it saying it would prompt companies to cut jobs, lower wages and probably driver them out of business. why do you think that way? guest: it is not the chamber. i testified in front of the ways an means committee last week. in that bill they had a mandate that requires employers to -- and there is no smul is all biu
exemption did you but a plan defined by the government or pay an 8% payroll tax if they do. that is the pay or play option. 8% payroll tax of somebody making $40,000 a year is $3,200 per employee. that is a good chunk of change. fortunately in this area lots of studies have been done on the employer mandates. pay or play and invariably they have found that the adverse impact would be on low wage workers in particular but because there is only so much money to go around employers will take the money out of some other pot, whether increased wages or other tax of benefits or job growth and that will result had an adverse impact on wages. it is not the chamber's studies. it is c.b.o., harvard. host: you can phone in your questions for randy johnson. the numbers are on the screen. we are talking about healthcare
legislation. is it fair to say the chamber is opposed to what is called universal health insurance guest: if you are talking about what hillary clinton had in 1994, yes, we are opposed to that. i'm not sure that -- when you say universal healthcare i think you may be thinking totally government run then we are opposed to that. we certainly support making it easier for individuals to access healthcare for individuals to enjoy full deductibility of the premiums which they don't now such as businesses do to make it easier for an individual to purchase insurance on the open market. we support subsidies for individuals. so we recognize there is a problem with the uninsured, whether 15 million or 40 million. and that is something congress is looking at. that doesn't mean that employers should have to pay for that. we are already spending over $500 million to provide employer based coverage and that not the
claimer studies. that is outside studies. the consensus came out noted half of americans are covered voluntarily provided mirror based coverage. that doesn't go into pensions. employers are already doing a lot to cover employees. so, when we looking at new mandates and new costs we do look at them and i will say that congress is rushing these bills through. when i testified last week we got an 850-page bill on friday and i testified wednesday and i would say compared to what happened when was on the hill when hillary clinton submitted her bill i would say what happened in 1994 with her bill was a model of clarity as compared to what is going on now on capitol hill. i think that is what you are seeing in the polls overall, which is a lot of people outside the beltway are just mystified about what is going on and they are scared.
they know what is going to go on. everybody wants cheaper insurance, more insurance but they are afraid what might happen will take away what they have. so, and i'm not surprised because everybody is confused. host: we will get to calls. miami up first, vicky, democratic line. caller: hi. i was calling because i'm very concerned with what is going on. it doesn't seem like this is america any more. it seems like the government is taking control of all of our lives. our taxes are going to go up. now that healthcare is going to run and obviously if it is government run just like they do in canada and other countries, they have to wait in lines to get to be seen by doctors. the their healthcare is not as good. if you don't have insurance here, you can still go to the hospital and be taken care of. so it is not that if you don't have insurance you are not taken
care of. you can go to the hospital and they have clinics, things here are in place. there is no reason our taxes have to go up and why the middle class that we have to be paying for everybody else. i think that is -- he said -- obama said we were not going to get any tax hikes, any tax increas increases, if we were with a government healthcare. well, he is going to tax us because he has to. guest: certainly on the last point, vicky is an important one. there are lots of taxes on the table and i guess to his credit the president has said he won't impose new costs without figuring out a way to pay for it but they are a little scary. some proposals are taxing your employee benefits that you have that are tax free. others are taxing so-called sugar drink likes soda.
everything is on the table and i think it is clear that taxes are going to go up. now, should that be what happens or not? congress will decide. but i think your concerns are very valid ones. host: what about the pay for as if something substantial were to happen, does the chamber have an idea of a prescription for paying for this? guest: well, i'm not going to take a position on which tax increases we would support or oppose. we have a broad-based membership. let me point out when we are spending in excess of $500 billion on voluntary provided healthcare insurance we feel we are doing our part already. when the president talks about fair share, well, i will put our $500 billion up against the other interest groups vehicling for reform and compare it to what wore doing as compared to them. host: east china township, michigan. bill on the independent line. caller: hello.
am i on the air? host: yes, what would you like to say about healthcare? caller: i find it interesting so many against healthcare and they think the government is inadequate, they want war. they think we do a fantastic job we are the best, the greatest. but when it comes to healthcare, the united states can't do anything. they look at the countries that are not doing as well as the other countries. in europe, france, germany, they have very good insurance. they are very happy with this. you don't hear our senators and congressmen talking about that. so, i would like to hear what you have to say about that. guest: well, bill, i would say we had a forum at the chamber several months ago exactly on this issue which was comparing the healthcare systems across the country -- across the world ranging from taiwan to england
to switzerland. and i think that the reality of it there is a lot of things going on. everyone has warts, everyone has advantages. some are paid through for a lot more taxes than america. some have long waiting lines. others don't. others have very diverse populations. switzerland as compared to america, they are a very diverse populations that make comparisons difficult. so, it easy to sort of make generalization bs all the syste systems. there are legitimate questions about rationing which occurs in government run programs and that is upsetting to many people after what many months were various kinds of operations particularly at later times in their life. but you are right, sometimes there are simplifications that are not valid. host: republican line, kansas, missouri, nancy. caller: yes, are they thinking that the taxpayer should pay it
or if businesses bay it, is the employer going to pay it or the employees that are going to pay it? i have a brother and he pays his employee insurance. he pays all of it. and he pays his own as well. so, i'm wondering, is the employee going to pay it, the employer or the government? guest: well, i have to caveat by saying we have been talking about healthcare about four months and no piece of legislation has been introduced. so we are going on lots of various drafts in which there are gaps in very important policy questions. i think it is going to be a combination of both. under the pay or play the employer would have to pay an 8% penalty that would go into a fund that would ostensibly help pay for the coverage but there's an individual mandate in which if an individual did not have insurance they would have to pay a certain tax based on their adjusted gross income as penalty which would go that government
fund or they would have to purchase insurance. that is the so-called individual mandate. so it is not either/or. the drafters are pulling frommefrom me many sources. they are looking at a lot of sources and both employers and employees are looked at. obviously the potential tax that people are talking about with regard to taxing benefits which are now tax free is a huge trfrgs issue. but there's a lot of money to be had and the congress will be no doubt looking at that as a honey pot. host: as a senior v.p. at the chamber of commerce speak about healthcare and broad er economy. what do you see happening economically if a maim bill is passed? guest: i know there is loose talk about we need healthcare to help us to pull us out of the economy. the reality is these bills would not kick in -- we ahatever the
merits are they won't kick it for four or five years and who knows what the effect might be since we don't understand a lot of the legislation. but when we are looking at mandates on employers of 8% of payroll tax, $3,200 per employee if you are making $40,000 on top of other things in the employment area particularly, we are concerned about it having a depressing effect on our ability to dig out of the economic hole we are in. in the long term, will it have an effect on driving down healthcare cost? that is a big question that we have right now. everyone talks the talk on that point, but i think the reality is different. host: you have a broad membership as you pointed out but how are small businesses in particular doing these days in general? guest: they are the entrepreneurs of our current and you hear about restaurants whatever the figure but more than half start and fail but the ones who make it, make it and
they move in and out and those who survive move up the ladder and they can provide benefits to employees once they get on. you can't do it when you are starting which is another thing we have. but they are struggling. some are doing well and ironically in the healthcare area. but we are a membership organization and we have a pretty good sense of the hurt they are feeling. host: one viewer sends this tweet our way about healthcare. there is no difference between employer or employee paid anything. the employee always pays even if he doesn't know it. randy johnson is here taking a call from cindy in phoenix on the democratic line. hi, cindy. caller: hi. i have a question. or i have a comment first, then a question. the comment is i find it always
ironic that a lot of people who are against government run healthcare or for the government, it seems as though they don't have faith in themselves. so i'm not sure that i should. another question, or my question is, why are you against government run healthcare? and also against a mandate for healthca healthcare? if you don't want a mandate that states that you have to have healthcare for your employees as a business person, why wouldn't you want a government plan or government option that that person can go to because you can't afford to cover them? guest: i'm not sure if your listener thinks i work for the got or not. sometimes the name u.s. chamber of commerce is confused with the department of commerce.
i don't work for the government. we are a employer based private sector organization. with regard to our problems with public or public run or government run healthcare, the medicare program on its face has run well. it provides coverage to senior citizens and we are all going to be there one day. but the reality is it is running in a huge deficit that is well known and c.b.o. is concerned about it. and lots of medicare costs get offloaded to the private sector through cost shifting. doctors get under paid and shift the cost to the private sector as we pick up. so, the lessons of government run healthcare are not that s g sanguine when you dig down into it. so, there is talk about expanding medicare or medicare-like plans to cover individuals who are much younger than 65. and perhaps everyone. and giving them a choice to be
in their employer's plan or to go into the public plan. if an employee has a choice, that employer can't very well calculate who is going to be in his or her plan or be in the public plan. the bills also require the employer to pay the premium for the worker to go to the public plan. that is the cashout option. if that happens, my employers, i think many of them will say i can't handle this system and we will just leave the healthcare sector altogether and that's not what they want. they want a workable system. they do that with over 170 million americans. so, the public plan option or the government run healthcare has not worked that well and that is why we have concerns about it. we have concerns under the bills how the public sector, expansion of the public sector plans will bump up against what is going on in the private sector. host: one other viewer asked
this question. guest: i don't know. we have insurance companies that are members. host: how are insurance companies doing with healthcare? what is your opinion? guest: it is a competitive work environment. there are about 1,500 insurance companies across the country. i think it is a mixed bag. some are doing well, some not so well. host: byron center michigan, independent line, vicky. caller: hi. thank you for taking my call. first i'm going to quote gwen ifill from the washington weekend in review. first she said let's kill all the lobbyists. i heard george will on your program. he said to himself -- he set himself up as an expert in healthcare. however, when a caller said that she worked for one company, or
her husband worked for one company and they had a combined yearly amount they had to pay out f poof pocket of $10,000 ea before the coverage kicked in while her daughter worked for another company and that her deductible was $300 a year, it is very simple. the insurance company is in business for making money. what they do with the various actuarial things and decide how much it will cost to ensure the employees of a company, and the
company decides how much they want to pay. so they pick from a variety of optio options, and the insurance company collects the premium up front, puts it in the bank, invests in various holdings. host: any question specifically for the guest? caller: well, it has already been asked. how many insurance companies does the chamber of commerce represent? guest: well, i think i haven't had a chance -- for those of you and you raise legitimate issues. almost in all of the bills there is a great deal of the so-called insurance market reforms. as part of the so-called individual mandate the insurance industry has accepted some very strong changes and i'm not overexaggerating, very strong changes in the market and how it is controlled such as ability to risk adjust is very limited.
there will be guaranteed renewal. guaranteed issue. and other sort of qualifications zeroing in on the others of, let's say, what has been difficulties in the past. i think the insurance industry recognizes that regulation is coming and they are working with congress to address a lot of the areas that the last call are looked into. i'm not an expert particularly in them but those issues i would call a congressman and ask what is going on in the bills on that. see if the congress can answer. host: why do you say, that see if the congressman can answer it? guest: when i get a bill on friday night over father's day weekend and i'm testifying on wednesday, i worked on capitol hill and i know how the process works. we seem to be in more of of a process where the more complex an issue is the more congress wants to hide the peanut rather than take the shell off to reveal it to the american public. they say that because we don't
want the opposition to grow. well, opposition, support, that is all part of the democratic process and lobbyists is not a bad word. i was on a panel with six and if alternative all dead there would be no panel to talk to congress. we are talking about there no bill introduced yet and we are talking about mark-ups next week and possibly going to the house floor before the august recess. i guarantee you most members of congress would not have precede that bill when it goes to the floor. host: yet this has been out there for years. what is a better process as somebody who knows the hill? guest: i think that we just need to slow it down. let's take our time. hillary clinton had a criticism because she wrote the bill ostensibly behind closed doors but when it went up to the hill and i worked on the hill then. there were lots of hearings on that bill. it was parcelled through and people understood it after
months of review. that is not what is going on now. and now people say that is why the bill didn't get through. maybe the american public spoke and the bill didn't get through. last time i looked that was the american democracy. host: president obama will do a town hall meeting today in the washington area. actually annandale, virginia. we will have it live 1:15 p.m. eastern on this network. he will talk to an audience and take questions through the online communities like facebook, youtube and fwtwitter. that will be 1:15 and we will probably replay it tonight in prime time. fallon, missouri, cindy on the republican line. caller: good morning. thank you for c-span. my question is really more of a three-point comment. we are all talking about how much healthcare will cost and cost is one of the consideratio
considerations. but any costs will be flowed through corporations -- i'm nervous -- any costs will be flowed through corporations to individuals, so that is one thing. whether they are taxes or however that cost is flowed through to the actual individual. another cost consideration is time. i know that when i go to a doctor i already have to sit in an office and wait a couple of hours usually to be seen by the doctor. so, if we have universal coverage we are going to spend more time waiting in the office. we will spend more time waiting or turn to even be called to the office. the third point i want to make is relational. the president even commented in his program on abc a week or so ago that seniors may have reason to be concerned because he said when talking about hip replacements or other things like that, these really
high-cost procedures, that they may be sent home with a pill. and i am just barely into my senior years so that is -- that scares me. but it should consider those in the 20's and 30's because they may have parents who may be told the cost for succeed that we just -- the cost for you is we can't do that so here is a pill and go home. guest: the president did raise tough issues there whether called rationing of medical care or making tough judgments as in the closing days of life. i won't comment on those. they are the rub of healthcare reform. i will say to the credit of a lot of the drafters on the legislation there is incentive to encourage doctors to be primary providers coming out of medical school who are traditionally unreimbursed.
but on that initial clearance when you make the visit you can meet with the primary provider who will hopefully have a better role in terms of governing the overall treatment with specialists. right now is very ad hoc. but you are right. if it is a government run plan doctors will likely be underreimbursed and take on more patients and waiting lines will increase. host: do you see significant differences between the highways and senate at this stage of the legislation that you want to point to? guest: the senate -- there are two bills in the senate, one is senator kennedy, contend-dodd and senate finance which is out of the baccus and grassley committee. i expect the senate finance bill will take a less expensive approach to reform. we will have pay fors in it and it will be more reasonable from our standpoint.
but we are waiting to see. i think the senate is taking a narrower sort of approach on the employer mandate issue and public plan issue. not surprisingly we will see a bill likely out of the house out of nancy pelosi that is far to the left than we will be comfortable with. host: monty, the last call, independent line, knoxville, tennessee. caller: health insurance is not for profit, nothing will be solved. my husband and i -- my husband worked hard. we paid our insurance. i go to the doctor, i'm denied coverage. i take my sons to the doctor for a broken hand. it took two months of me calling every day for them to even start to pay the doctor and orthopedist to fix his hand. excuse me! that is not right. host: final thought from randy
johnson. guest: i think we can get a lot of reforms that the caller is sensing we need in the insurance market as i mentioned which is wrapped up in this mandate idea without going into these broader, huge issues that may bring down the bill like new government plan or -- there is stuff we can do without doing everything. i think that is what we need to strive to pull off. host: randy johnson senior vice president of u.s. chamber of commerce. thank you for your time and sharing your organization's position. . thank you. host: in a couple of minutes we will talk about the housing market and new information that is out and the impact of the current housing situation on a broader u.s. economy. that is in a couple of minutes. first an update from c-span radio on the news. >> more on healthcare today when president obama hosts a town hall meeting in a few hours. white house staffers are choosing some